All In a Week’s Work

The 5th grade has been nonstop.
If you see a 5th grader this week, shake their hand.

At this point of the year (5 weeks left!), students and staff are hard at work at every grade level—presenting their end-of-year projects or attending culminating events. Perhaps there are only a handful of people who are finding this moment pretty chill. (Tell me who they are. I have a job for them.)

I’d like to give you a glimpse into the 5th grade, as a representative of all the grades, in order to illustrate the many varied experiences GDS Lower School students are having, thanks to the dedication of their teachers. Some projects are older GDS favorites with a fresh face this (and every) year. Then, there are the massive new projects, including LearnServe and “Good Morning, GDS.”

First, staff and families were treated to Traveling Biographies, literally with fresh faces. Fifth grade students, in character and in costume, visited classrooms and offices to present monologue riddles to rapt audiences. Many hundreds of schools have biography projects, and many proudly publicize the research and organizational strategies with which their teachers have supported students. Yet, GDS truly is different. Long before delivering their polished speeches*, and even before researching their chosen subject, students engaged deeply in uniquely GDS learning experiences around book selection habits and representation. Beginning in the library in the fall, LMS librarian Lisa Fall had students take an inventory of the kinds of books they checked out and the identities of protagonists represented in those books. Many students were eager to fill in the genre gaps or disrupt patterns in the gender identities of the protagonists in books they read. By the time students reached the extensive lists of names from which to choose, many students were already on the lookout for learning opportunities: people whose stories diverged from their own by virtue of gender, culture, or area of interest. As they performed for families in the black box—a simple tap on the shoulder would bring their stories to life—the poise and pride in their voices was a privilege to witness.

In April, 5th grade musicians, actors, and directors welcomed kindergarten, 1st, and 2nd grade Hoppers to a performance inspired by the book The Legend of Rock Paper Scissors by Drew Daywalt, illustrated by Adam Rex. Original music on xylophones accompanied each scene in the epic battle between peaches, chicken nuggets, printers, trail mix, and eventually rock, paper, and scissors.

Thirdly, students are in the thick of their third cycle of LearnServe International, a program designed to help students craft and lead their own social venture. For this project, teachers invite the students to determine the causes for which they are most passionate, define the goals of their advocacy, and direct their efforts to deliver the kinds of outcomes they’ve envisioned. Working in teams has prevented students from running off in 60 different directions at once and served to focus their efforts around shared causes. The 5th grade teaching team has led gung-ho 5th graders through this process, leaving room for learning from failure, building resilience, and coordinating efforts, all while managing these 10- and 11-year-old advocates who want to send surveys, print flyers, pie teachers’ faces, host bake sales at the High School, plant trees, sell lemonade, sell concessions at Sports Saturday, sell slime, screen films, build toys, collect clothes, collect food, and collect donations for a dozen different charitable organizations.

Oh, and “Good Morning, GDS!”...thank goodness they’ve decided to take a week off. After getting a pie in their face for a good cause, something’s got to give. The teachers have pushed pause on this week’s broadcast, but it will be back soon!

Thanks to the 5th grade for allowing us to highlight some of their great work as a means of revealing what so many of our students and staff are doing this spring.

Music: Tricia Nevarez
Drama: Brooke Houghton
Humanities: Judy Brown and Reed Thompson, with librarian Lisa Fall
Homeroom, LearnServe, Good Morning, GDS: Judy Brown, Gary Cutler, Luisa Myavec, Elvin Peprah, Reed Thompson, and Bryan Williams. 

*It may also be important to note that the process actually begins much earlier. Notably, in February and March of 2nd grade, students study a prominent historical or contemporary figure as part of their reading curriculum. Given the proximity to Black History and Women’s History Months, many students select a person of color or woman. Some choose to perform in costume as they have seen older students do, while others choose to make a book, collection of comics, or short documentary film.


4530 MacArthur Boulevard, NW, Washington, DC 20007


4200 Davenport Street, NW, Washington, DC 20016

Georgetown Day School is a coed, preK-12, non-sectarian private school in Washington, DC with small class sizes and a diverse school community. Our comprehensive, innovative curriculum includes hands-on learning, honors and AP classes, as well as advanced-level math and STEM courses. An education is not just college prep and SAT scores. GDS teachers focus on providing the best education for each child, from elementary grades through high school. The school performing arts program includes theater, dance, and music. The athletics program offers competitive sports for student athletes, including cross-country, track, soccer, lacrosse, and crew/rowing. With our strong commitment to financial aid, an independent school tuition is affordable.